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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 22nd Feb 2017

Mark ZuckerbergImage copyrightAP

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has outlined a plan to let artificial intelligence (AI) software review content posted on the social network.

In a letter describing the plan, he said algorithms would eventually be able to spot terrorism, violence, bullying and even prevent suicide.

He admitted Facebook had previously made mistakes in the content it had removed from the website.

But he said it would take years for the necessary algorithms to be developed.

The announcement has been welcomed by an internet safety charity, which had previously been critical of the way the social network had handled posts depicting extreme violence.

Errors

In his 5,500-word letter discussing the future of Facebook, Mr Zuckerberg said it was impossible to review the billions of posts and messages that appeared on the platform every day.

"The complexity of the issues we've seen has outstripped our existing processes for governing the community," he said.

He highlighted the removal of videos related to the Black Lives Matter movement and the historical napalm girl photograph from Vietnam as "errors" in the existing process.

Facebook was also criticised in 2014, following reports that one of the killers of Fusilier Lee Rigby spoke online about murdering a soldier, months before the attack.

"We are researching systems that can read text and look at photos and videos to understand if anything dangerous may be happening.

"This is still very early in development, but we have started to have it look at some content, and it already generates about one third of all reports to the team that reviews content."

"Right now, we're starting to explore ways to use AI to tell the difference between news stories about terrorism and actual terrorist propaganda."

Personal filtering

Mr Zuckerberg said his ultimate aim was to allow people to post largely whatever they liked, within the law, with algorithms detecting what had been uploaded.

Users would then be able to filter their news feed to remove the types of post they did not want to see.

"Where is your line on nudity? On violence? On graphic content? On profanity? What you decide will be your personal settings," he explained.

"For those who don't make a decision, the default will be whatever the majority of people in your region selected, like a referendum.

"It's worth noting that major advances in AI are required to understand text, photos and videos to judge whether they contain hate speech, graphic violence, sexually explicit content, and more.

"At our current pace of research, we hope to begin handling some of these cases in 2017, but others will not be possible for many years."

The plan was welcomed by the Family Online Safety Institute, a member of Facebook's own safety advisory board. The charity had previously criticised the social network for allowing beheading videos to be seen without any warning on its site.

"This letter further demonstrates that Facebook has been responsive to concerns and is working hard to prevent and respond to abuse and inappropriate material on the platform," said Jennifer Hanley, Fosi's vice president of legal and policy.

"I also really like the ability for users to customise their own experiences with these developments. It's important to give users power over their online experiences, and additional tools and controls will be helpful."

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 22nd Feb 2017

Chloe's letterImage copyrightCHLOE BRIDGEWATER

Image captionThe inspiration for Chloe's letter had been internet research showing Google's offices including bean bags, go karts and slides

An "entrepreneurial" seven year old wrote to Google for a job and its CEO replied.

After discussing her father's work, Chloe Bridgewater decided she would like to work for Google and penned a letter beginning "dear Google boss".

It was only the schoolgirl's second letter, after her first missive to Father Christmas, but the search engine's CEO Sundar Pichai wrote back.

Her father Andy said the girl "took it all in her stride".

Google offers Chloe Bridgewater tour of London HQ, family reveal

Sundar PichaiImage copyrightAP

Image captionGoogle CEO Sundar Pichai told Chloe to work hard and follow her dreams

"We were gobsmacked, but I don't think Chloe could understand the magnitude of the reaction she'd got afterwards," said father Andy, a sales manager from Hereford.

"She's got a great entrepreneurial spirit. Ever since nursery, she's always been told in school reports she's bright, hard-working and polite - we're very proud of her and her younger sister [Hollie, five] is similar," he said.

(Left-right)Julie, Chloe, Hollie and Andy BridgewaterImage copyrightANDY BRIDGEWATER/PA WIRE

Image captionChloe (centre left) with her sister Hollie and parents Julie and Andy


Mr Pichai's full reply

"Thank you so much for your letter. I'm glad that you like computers and robots, and hope that you will continue to learn about technology.

"I think if you keep working hard and following your dreams, you can accomplish everything you set your mind to - from working at Google to swimming at the Olympics.

"I look forward to receiving your job application when you are finished with school! :)

"All the best to you and your family."


letterImage copyrightANDY BRIDGEWATER

Image captionChloe took the reply 'all in her stride', father Andy said

Mr Pichai, who rose from humble beginnings in India, was appointed Google's CEO in 2015.

The inspiration for Chloe's letter had been internet research showing Google's offices including bean bags, go karts and slides but she also highlighted a keen interest in computers in her application.

Chloe also admitted to an interest in a job in a chocolate factory or as a swimmer at the Olympics in the letter, and Mr Pichai's reply said "if she kept working hard and following her dreams, she could accomplish everything she set her mind to."

Mr Bridgewater said he and his wife Julie, a HR advisor, had seen Chloe's business acumen in action already.

Besides her love of swimming - 20 lengths on Tuesdays with her mum - Chloe has also volunteered to clean the kitchen for 20p, he said.

"She is only young so she needs to play with her friends, jump on a trampoline but whenever she shows an interest in something else - like this letter - we want to encourage her," Andy said.

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 22nd Feb 2017

Spotify appImage copyrightREUTERS

It's amazing to think that just 10 years ago, flat-rate digital music streaming services were a mere gleam in the eye of industry executives.

It was as recently as September 2007 that Rick Rubin, then co-head of Columbia Records, put forward the idea as a way of combating online music piracy and file-sharing.

"You'd pay, say, $19.95 a month, and the music will come from anywhere you'd like," he told the New York Times.

"In this new world, there will be a virtual library that will be accessible from your car, from your cell phone, from your computer, from your television."

As it turned out, he was essentially describing Spotify, which launched just over a year later.

He even got the price right. In those heady days, when the pound was a lot stronger, $19.95 was equivalent to £10, which, give or take a penny, is the monthly cost of Spotify Premium in the UK today.

But Spotify is yet to make a profit, while plans to float the firm on the stock market have reportedly been delayed, raising a big question mark over its business model.

Industry accolade

Of course, Spotify isn't the only streaming platform out there. Others have joined it over the past decade, including Apple Music, Amazon Prime Music and Deezer, as well as high-resolution music services Tidal and Qobuz.

But Spotify is seen as the leader, with more than 100 million users, 40 million of them paid-up subscribers to its Premium tier.

Daniel EkImage copyrightAFP

Image captionSpotify's Daniel Ek is now the music industry's most powerful player, says Billboard

The Swedish firm is now a major player in 60 countries, including the world's biggest music market, the US, where streaming accounted for 51% of music consumption last year.

Reflecting the huge impact that Spotify has had, its chief executive, Daniel Ek, has just topped US music industry magazine Billboard's latest Power 100 list of the biggest movers and shakers in the business.

"For the first time since [former file-sharing service] Napster decimated music sales, the recorded music industry is showing signs of growth, and that reversal of fortune is largely due to one man," Billboard said in its citation.

The magazine also hailed Spotify as "the place fans discover music as well as consume it", pointing to its promoted playlists, including its Discover Weekly service.

Royalty woes

However, the clock is ticking for Spotify as it hatches its plans to go public.

The firm originally planned to float this year, but according to the TechCrunch website, this could now be delayed until 2018.

There are various issues behind this move, not least of which is that Spotify needs to conclude new long-term licensing deals with the big three record companies - Universal, Sony and Warner - to avoid the risk of suddenly losing major chunks of its content.

It's thought that Spotify currently pays 55% of its revenue to record labels in royalties, with additional money going to music publishers.

In the interest of finally becoming a profitable company, it would like to lower that percentage, but this is unlikely to go down well with artists, who argue that the royalties they receive from streaming are unfairly low as it is.

Brutal arithmetic

But if it waits too long before floating, it could face a serious cash crisis.

In March last year, the firm raised $1bn from investors at an interest rate of 5% a year, plus a discount of 20% on shares once the initial public offering (IPO) of shares takes place.

Spotify appImage copyrightAFP

Image captionIs Spotify now too big to fail?

However, under the terms of the agreement, the interest rate goes up by one percentage point and the discount by 2.5 percentage points every six months until the IPO happens.

So as time goes on, Spotify must pay ever larger sums to its creditors just to settle the interest on its loan, while the amount of money it can raise from its IPO is trimmed by an ever greater amount.

Unless Mr Ek can get the better of this brutal arithmetic, the future looks tough for Spotify.

But at the same time, as Billboard says, "the entire music business now has an interest in its success".

"If it's not already too big to fail, it's headed in that direction quickly," concludes the magazine.

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 22nd Feb 2017

UberImage copyrightAFP

Image captionThe app continued to send notifications to the man's wife's phone

A businessman in southern France is suing ride-hailing company Uber over his wife's discovery of rides he took to see his lover, his lawyer said.

The man says he once requested an Uber driver from his wife's phone.

Despite logging off, the application continued to send notifications to her iPhone afterwards, revealing his travel history and arousing her suspicions.

The couple have since divorced. The lawsuit is reportedly worth up to €45m ($48m; £38m).

"My client was the victim of a bug in an application," his lawyer David-André Darmon told AFP news agency after the case was lodged at a court in Grasse.

"The bug has caused him problems in his private life," Mr Darmon added.

The lawyer did not comment on a report in Le Figaro newspaper that the lawsuit was worth up to €45m, saying only that his client wished to remain discreet and anonymous.

Other users had also encountered the Uber software bug, Le Figaro said.

The newspaper carried out its own experiment by logging in and out of Uber on one iPhone and then logging in on another and ordering a driver. The app then sent screen notifications about the order to both phones.

The glitch affected iPhones before a software update in December, the newspaper said. Android phones did not appear to be affected.

Uber said it would not comment on the case but added that the best possible protection of clients' personal details was a priority.

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 21st Feb 2017

woman on ipadImage copyrightTHINKSTOCK

People looking for love online are being urged to do a search of phrases in the messages they receive to help them spot sweet-talking conmen.

A new UK campaign, starting on Sunday, aims to raise awareness about the growing problem of online dating fraud.

The campaign, Date Safe, suggests criminals are using love letter templates and an online search could flag up some of the stock phrases.

Police say the average dating scam victim is aged 49 and loses £10,000.

The new report, published by the City of London Police and the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, also reveals that on average, money is transferred within 30 days of initial contact with the perpetrator.

Repeat victims

In a dating scam, criminals pose as potential matches and contact people seeking romance on dating platforms - then, after a period of correspondence and sometimes also phone contact, they start asking for money using various excuses.

The police report, which analysed data from the Action Fraud helpline, estimated that in the UK a victim files a report about dating scams every three hours.

Of those who stated their gender, 61% of the victims were female and 66% of the suspects were male, it said.

While most activity occurred on dating websites, the majority of the 15% that did not was carried out via Facebook, the report claimed.

It also said that 213 people admitted they had been a victim of a dating scam more than once.

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David: "She knew so much"

David from Norfolk, who is in his 50s, was a victim of dating fraud five years ago. He was contacted by somebody who assumed the online identity of an old friend.

He handed over his life savings, a total of £15,000, over the course of the scam.

It took him three years to get his finances reorganised and he is still concerned about his credit rating.

"It was so strange that she knew so much," he says of his scammer, who even mentioned meeting him in London when he had met his real friend there years previously.

"It wasn't until the evening she was supposed to be flying over to me that I was suspicious.

"To start with I just felt like getting in my car and driving off a cliff. I didn't go out, I didn't trust people on the phone, on my laptop, I cut everybody off."

David had help from independent charity Victim Support which he says saved his life.

He no longer uses dating sites and has taken up ballroom dancing instead.

"Now, I think I was an idiot but if she had been the real person and she had come to me we could have been a happy family by now," he said.

"She said she missed me, that she'd never married... it was like a schoolboy dream."

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"The growth in online dating has led to a rise in organised criminals targeting people looking for love," said Commander Chris Greany, of the City of London Police and National Co-ordinator for Economic Crime.

"These crimes destroy lives and the emotional damage often far outweighs the financial loss.

"Never give money to people you meet online, no matter what emotional sob story the person uses."

People are also advised to talk to friends and family about those they are in touch with online.

Dating scam 'packs'

Criminals can purchase scam "packs" containing love letter templates, photos, videos and false identities for as little as a few dollars on the dark web, said Prof Alan Woodward, cybersecurity expert at Surrey University.

"So many people fall for these scams that the price of the packs has dropped as it has become a high volume sale," he said.

"Social engineering is a very active black market.

"As dating scams are becoming more widely known, there is evidence that a follow-up scam has been developed where 'detectives' or 'investigators' offer to try to recover any money you may have been duped out of... for a fee," he added.

"Needless to say it is throwing good money after bad."

The Date Safe campaign is a partnership between Get Safe Online, Victim Support, AgeUK, City of London Police, the Metropolitan Police and the Online Dating Association.

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 21st Feb 2017

 

Windows 10

Above: Windows 10

Image Credit: Microsoft

Timed perfectly with Windows Developer Day, Microsoft today released a new Windows 10 preview for PCs with a Compact Overlay mode, Dynamic Lock, and improved full-screen Game Bar support. This is the latest build of the company’s upcoming Windows 10 Creators Update, which is slated for release in “early 2017.”

Windows 10 is a service, meaning it was built in a very different way than its predecessors so it can be regularly updated with not just fixes but new featurestoo. While Microsoft has released many such updates to date, the Creative Update will be a major one and follows the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, released in August 2016.

compact_overlay_mode

First up, Microsoft has added a new Compact Overlay mode, meant for those times when you want to continue watching a video while switching apps. When an app window enters this mode, it will be shown above other windows so it remains permanently visible. Microsoft promises that its Movies & TV and Skype Preview apps will take advantage of Compact Overlay soon.

dynamic-lock

Next, Dynamic Lock is a new feature that locks your Windows 10 PC when you’re not around (Settings => Accounts => Sign-in options => Dynamic lock). It does this based on the proximity of your Bluetooth-paired phone: If it’s not near your PC for 30 seconds, Windows turns off the screen and locks your computer.

1-TqFrTQhRzRVtGy2JGS29YA

Microsoft has also introduced a new share icon (old one above on the left, new one above on the right). Apps that used the “share” font glyph in Segoe MDL2 assets should get updated automatically. The old icon never really made sense, to be honest, so this is a welcome change.

 

 

Lastly, the Windows Game Bar has received improved full-screen support for 52 additional games. Just hit WIN+G to invoke Game Bar and capture a recording or screenshot.

The desktop build includes the following improvements and bug fixes:

  • Fixed the issue causing Tencent apps and games to crash or work incorrectly.
  • Updated OOBE so that if there’s no detected audio output device, for example with VMs, it now skips Cortana’s introduction.
  • [GAMING] Fixed the issue causing popular games may experience crashes or black screens when trying to load due to a platform issue.
  • [GAMING] Fixed the issue where Game Mode is enabled system wide by default, however, the ON/OFF toggle in Settings will incorrectly show it as being OFF until the user manually toggles the Setting to ON which will cause it to update and accurately display the status of Game Mode system wide.
  • Fixed an issue where the night light quick action was unexpectedly disabled in the last Insider flight.
  • Fixed an issue resulting in audio going quiet each time the Start menu is opened after a SpeechRuntime.exe crash.
  • Dragging apps from the all apps list to pin on Start’s tile grid will now work. An issue on recent builds where some tiles might unexpectedly appear blank and with a name starting with “P~…” after upgrading has been fixed.
  • Fixed an issue where Win + Shift + S wouldn’t work to capture a region of the screen if the Snipping Tool was already running and an issue where taking a snip with the Snipping Tool would fail on 4k monitors when 60-80% was selected.
  • Fixed an issue resulting in “Fn”+”Pause/Break” key not working to pause the checking progress when running chkdsk.
  • Fixed an issue where resizing windows with a pen would be unexpectedly slow and an issue where resizing a window across monitors with different DPIs could be unpredictable.
  • Fixed an issue where the Windows Ink highlight preview wouldn’t be visible in Web Notes when Microsoft Edge was using dark theme.
  • Improved gesture recognition for 3 finger swipes on precision touchpads.
  • Fixed an issue where a number of files with the name GLOB(0xXXXXXX) could be unexpectedly found in the system root directory after upgrading.
  • Fixed an issue where you couldn’t rename disk volumes via File Explorer in recent flights.
  • Fixed an issue where rapidly tapping a button to bring up the new Share experience, for example in Microsoft Edge, could result in the Share UI not coming up again until the device had been rebooted.
  • Fixed an issue resulting the lists of thumbnails in Photos and Groove Music visibly shifting up when the app resumed.
  • Fixed an issue where the Themes Settings page would blink when a theme was deleted.
  • Updated the help string on each page of Settings to be a bit more succinct.
  • Fixed an issue resulting in not being able to type ę on the Polish keyboard into the Settings search box.
  • Fixed an issue where Cortana Background Task Host might have ended up using an unexpectedly large amount of CPU in recent flights. Shortened the two factor authentication notification from Cortana so that it won’t be truncated.
  • Fixed an issue where the UI to input credentials wouldn’t have keyboard focus after initiating a remote connection to another PC.
  • Improved reliability when handling malformed Gifs in XAML-based apps.
  • The icons should now be shown as expected instead of squares under Settings > Gaming.

Today’s update bumps the Windows 10 build number for PCs from 15025 (made available to testers on February 1) to build 15031.

This build has 12 known issues:

  • You may see “Initializing…” when attempting to download this build and the download progress indicator shown when downloading this build may seem broken under Settings > Update & security > Windows Update. It may look like you’re getting stuck at 0% or at other percentages. Ignore the indicator and be patient. The build should download fine, and the installation should kick off.
  • While we fixed the primary bug causing this issue, some Windows Insiders may still hit nonstop exceptions in the Spectrum.exe service causing their PC to lose audio, disk I/O usage to become very high, and apps like Microsoft Edge to become unresponsive when doing certain actions such as opening Settings. As a workaround to get out of this state, STOP the Spectrum.exe service and delete C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Spectrum\PersistedSpatialAnchors and reboot. For more details, see this forum post.
  • Going to Settings > Devices will crash the Settings app. You will be unable to pair a Bluetooth device. Bluetooth quick actions from Action Center also does not work.
  • You will not be able to launch the Connect UX via Action Center, Win + K, or Settings (it will crash upon launch). This will impact wireless projection scenarios.
  • [GAMING] Some popular games might minimize to the taskbar when launched. You can click on the game on the taskbar to get the game back.
  • [GAMING] Certain hardware configurations may cause the broadcast live review window in the Game bar to flash Green while you are Broadcasting. This does not affect the quality of your broadcast and is only visible to the Broadcaster.
  • Microsoft Edge F12 tools may intermittently crash, hang, and fail to accept inputs.
  • Microsoft Edge’s “Inspect Element” and “View Source” options don’t correctly launch to the DOM Explorer and Debugger, respectively.
  • Under Settings > Update & security > Windows Update you might see the text “Some Settings are managed by your organization” even though your PC isn’t being managed by an organization. This is a bug caused by an updated flight configuration setting for Insider Preview builds and does not mean your PC is being managed by anyone.
  • On some PCs, audio stops working sporadically with ‘device in use’ error. We are investigating. Restarting the audio service may fix things for a bit.
  • The Action Center may sometimes appear blank and transparent without color. If you encounter this, try moving the taskbar to a different location on screen.
  • The icon for Windows Insider Program under Settings > Update & security is shown as a square.

If you’re OK with the above and want to get build 15031 now, head to PC Settings, select “Update and recovery,” then “Preview builds,” and then click the “Check Now” button.

Source: venturebeat.com
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Sat 18th Feb 2017

On Thursday 16 February 2017, we experienced a major outage which may have affected some of our Customer’s email & website services.

The issue was due to circumstances beyond our control, our upstream domain hosting company suffered a serious and prolonged outage. This outage caused DNS problems which in turn resulted in the failure of some companies receiving email and/or web issues. DNS converts the website addresses like www.discus.co.uk to an IP address on a webserver, if this fails the website or service would be unreachable.

We have been using the provider of this service successfully for in excess of ten years and this failure was most unexpected. The issue first became apparent at around 10am on Thursday which we responded to immediately and we had resolved the issue at 12pm by relocating the affected domains to a new provider with proven and appropriate redundancy. However, due to the changes needed to propagate around the internet the issues would have been still occurring after the initial resolution.

Please accept our apologies for this issue and be assured we have taken appropriate steps to prevent it happening again in the future.

 

 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 15th Feb 2017

MoneyImage copyrightPA

Image captionSenior staff have different ideas about the costs of breaches, found the research

Large companies are confused about who should be in charge of dealing with the aftermath of cyber-attacks, according to new research.

The study by BAE Systems suggests senior managers expect IT staff to deal with data breaches, but technology bosses feel it should be board members.

The confusion could make firms more vulnerable to attacks, said BAE.

Both camps also had widely different estimates of how much a breach could cost, according to the research.

"Both sides seem to think that its the other's responsibility when it comes to a successful breach and that reflects a gap in understanding," said Dr Adrian Nish, head of the cyber-threat intelligence unit at BAE Systems.

The research had responses from 984 IT managers and 221 executives from Fortune 500 companies across the world.

It suggested that 50% of IT staff believed boardroom executives should take the lead when it comes to deciding how a company should respond and repair after it has been penetrated by hackers.

By contrast, more than a third of the chief executives questioned said IT staff should be the ones cleaning up, fixing problems and hardening defences.

Breach costs

The differing views could contribute to the inevitable confusion that follows when firms, both large and small, suffer a breach, said Dr Nish.

"That is definitely a weakness and it will lead to organisations not being prepared for oncoming attacks," he said.

The two groups also differed when asked about breach costs.

Technology bosses believed that, on average, a breach would cost a company about $19m (£15m).

The estimate included fines, legal fees, remediation expenses and compensation for customers. By contrast, boardroom members put an average price tag of $11.6m (£9.2m) on breaches.

"Any business you're in, whether it's media or pharmaceuticals or a charity, your business is involved in tech in some way, shape or form," said Adam Thilthorpe, director for professionalism at BCS, the chartered institute for IT.

"There are lots of people on the boards who think cybersecurity is not related to being a director of a company.

"How many TalkTalks does it take to realise the buck stops at the top?" he said, referring to a 2015 attack on the telecoms firm.

Oliver Parry, head of corporate governance at the Institute of Directors, said businesses should focus on "preventative measures" to protect against cyber-threats.

"As with other principle risks to a business, responsibility of outlining this strategy should fall with the board.

"Lasting cybersecurity only comes from embedding good practice throughout the culture of an organisation, starting from the top. No system or person alone can prevent indefinitely the threat of a cyber-attack."

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 15th Feb 2017

Great white sharkImage copyrightSCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Image captionThe discovery of the bug had led to a feeding frenzy for hackers, said security firms

A security flaw in the WordPress blogging software has let hackers attack and deface tens of thousands of sites.

One estimate suggests more than 1.5 million pages on blogs have been defaced.

The security firm that found the vulnerability said some hackers were now trying to use it to take over sites rather than just spoil pages.

WordPress urged site owners to update software to avoid falling victim.

Feeding frenzy

The vulnerability is found in an add-on for the WordPress blogging software that was introduced in versions released at the end of 2016.

Security firm Sucuri found the "severe" bug and informed WordPress about it on 20 January.

In a blogpost, WordPress said it delayed going public about the flaw so it could prompt hosting firms to update their software to a fixed version.

The patched version of WordPress was formally released on 26 January and led to many sites and blogs automatically applying the update.

However, many blogs have not followed suit leaving them open to defacement attacks.

Security firm WordFence said it had seen evidence that 20 hacker groups were trying to meddle with vulnerable sites. About 40,000 blogs are believed to have been hit.

The vulnerability had set off a "feeding frenzy" among hacker groups, WordFence founder Mark Maunder told the Bleeping Computer tech news site.

"During the past 48 hours we have seen over 800,000 attacks exploiting this specific vulnerability across the WordPress sites we monitor," he added.

Sucuri said some hacker groups had moved on from defacement to attempts to use the bug to hijack sites for their own ends.

"Attackers are starting to think of ways to monetise this vulnerability," wrote Sucuri founder Daniel Cid. "Defacements don't offer economic returns, so that will likely die soon."

Hackers were keen to use the vulnerable sites as proxies for spam or malware campaigns, he said.

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 15th Feb 2017

Man with data computerImage copyrightTHINKSTOCK

Schoolchildren in England will be offered lessons in cyber security in a bid to find the experts of the future to defend the UK from attacks.

It is hoped 5,700 pupils aged 14 and over will spend up to four hours a week on the subject in a five-year pilot.

Classroom and online teaching, "real-world challenges" and work experience will be made available from September.

A Commons committee last week warned that a skills shortage was undermining confidence in the UK's cyber defences.

The risk that criminals or foreign powers might hack into critical UK computer systems is now ranked as one of the top four threats to national security.

'Cutting-edge skills'

Russia in particular is suspected of planning sustained attacks on Western targets.

Cyber security is a fast-growing industry, employing 58,000 experts, the government says, but the Public Accounts Committee has warned it is proving difficult to recruit people with the right skills.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is providing £20m for the lessons, which will be designed to fit around pupils' current courses and exams.

Digital and Culture Minister Matt Hancock said: "This forward-thinking programme will see thousands of the best and brightest young minds given the opportunity to learn cutting-edge cyber security skills alongside their secondary school studies.

'Pipeline of talent'

"We are determined to prepare Britain for the challenges it faces now and in the future and these extra-curricular clubs will help identify and inspire future talent."

The government is already providing university funding and work placements for promising students.

An apprenticeship scheme has also begun to support key employers to train and recruit young people aged 16 or over who have a "natural flair for problem-solving" and are "passionate about technology".

Steve Elder, 20, who is a cyber security apprentice with BT, told BBC Radio 5 Live that educating young people about the risks and vulnerabilities of the cyber security world would help the UK prepare for the future.

He added: "Getting young people involved and getting them taught from a young age will allow them - even in their home environment - to protect themselves, before it has to come to people at a specialist level."

Finger on computer keyboardImage copyrightPA

Mr Hancock told the BBC he wanted to ensure the UK "had the pipeline of talent" it would need.

Cyber security expert Brian Lord, a former deputy director at GCHQ, told BBC Breakfast that the scheme was an "essential initiative" to recruit more people into the profession.

He added: "There is perception that cyber security is all about techno geeks who have long hair, glasses, wear heavy metal t-shirts and drink red bull.

"There are those, and they do an extraordinarily good job. But there is a whole range of other activities... that can appeal to a wide cross section of children, graduates and apprentices, and at the moment they don't know what [is on] offer.

"The more exposure [children] can get [the more it will] prepare them for a future career and, as that generation needs to understand how to be safe online, you get a double benefit."

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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